basisEnergie – The fundamentals explained in a clear manner

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School wasting energy - true ? false?
© U. Lempp; BINE Informationsdienst
Seven schools in Potsdam reduced their energy costs
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Schoolchildren are saving energy

At many schools they already exist: schoolchildren as energy detectives, energy managers or energy teams. They track down energy leaks, take the initiative, assume responsibility and ultimately know a great deal about saving energy. Their commitment is often also financially rewarding for their school.

Seven schools in Potsdam reduced their energy costs by a total of € 46,000 in 1998 by means of energy saving projects. The Felix Klein grammar school in Göttingen reported on the Internet that 14,000 kWh of electricity and 215,000 kWh of heating energy were saved in 1997/98 in comparison to the preceding years. The energy working group of the Edith Stein school in Darmstadt thermally insulated the loft with support from a donor in summer 1998 and reduced heating oil requirements by 20 % in comparison to the preceding year. In Nuremberg, as the best school among 19 the Peter Vischer school reduced the costs of heating, electricity and water by € 8,700, of which the school received € 2,900. The young people in BUND (Federation for the Environment and Nature Conservation in Germany) won the climate bet with the Federal Government in 1999: the schoolchildren’s activities reduced the CO2 emissions from the participating schools by more than 10%.

In many places, “energy” has become a topic in everyday school life. The project “Saving energy at your school” offers many opportunities to schoolchildren: requesting information on their own or searching on the Internet, measuring and evaluating energy consumption, entering the data on PCs, graphically editing and publishing the data, working jointly with others towards achieving a common goal, winning other pupils and teacher over to the idea, starting environmental protection on the spot and ultimately jointly celebrating the success achieved. All this involves the practical application of theoretical knowledge from many subjects at their school.


Apart from enthusiasm for science, technology and the environment, the energy detectives must also contribute social skills to motivate their classmates, teachers and caretakers, such as the ability to work in a team, to communicate, to empathize – qualifications sought after in their later professional life.

Schools exhibit a high energy consumption because of high heating requirements, heat losses due to ventilation and electricity consumption due to lighting and equipment. In the past few years, the German Federal Ministry of Economics (BMWi) has supported a number of projects for the energetic upgrading of school buildings (BINE Project Info 6/1997). About 80 % - 95 % of the possible energy savings can be achieved by investments in buildings and technology, whereas 5 % - 20 % can be saved by more conscious user behaviour. This requires low investments and can be rapidly implemented by schoolchildren together with teachers and caretakers. In many places, schools receive part of the energy costs saved as a reward – mostly sums between € 2,600 and € 5,200.

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This Basisinfo is out of print at present, but still available as a PDF download